Welcome to Varied Expressions of Worship

Welcome to Varied Expressions of Worship

This blog will be written from an orthodox Christian point of view. There may be some topic that is out of bounds, but at present I don't know what it will be. Politics is a part of life. Theology and philosophy are disciplines that we all participate in even if we don't think so. The Bible has a lot to say about economics. How about self defense? Is war ethical? Think of all the things that someone tells you we should not touch and let's give it a try. Everything that is a part of life should be an expression of worship.

Keep it courteous and be kind to those less blessed than you, but by all means don't worry about agreeing. We learn more when we get backed into a corner.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Opus 33, Worship Is Not a Spectator Sport

Christmas Eve we went to a worship service.  Overall it was an uplifting experience and helped us focus on the Word becoming flesh.

There were certain jarring moments.  I have experienced them at regular Sunday worship and it reminded me of conversations I have had with myself before.  I am old enough to remember when traditional worship had life to it.  Hymns were sung with enthusiasm by people who knew how to follow a hymn book.  Many people were taught to read music at different levels and it was not uncommon to hear harmony coming from the congregation.  We had what we called choruses that were thrown in to enrich the experience.  For you younger people, a hymnal is a book with words and music that contains songs old enough to be printed.  A chorus was what you refer to as praise music.  Praise music is not new, just re-labeled for marketing purposes.

So we are singing a traditional Christmas song.  At least it started off that way, but a few measures into the song the young man at the keyboard started playing different chords than are traditional.  The reason for different chords is that they give a different feel and generate a different response to the music.  So very quickly the musical team is imposing what they consider to be their musical genius on an unsuspecting audience.  Then when we get to the end of selected lines, instead of the melody going up like 300 years of worshipers are used to they went down.  At that point I stopped singing.  If I had their arrangement on my I-pod I would listen to it and be stimulated by the variety in the arrangement.  In a congregation I don’t want to spend my time trying to figure out what new variation the musicians have decided on this time.  Several times I found myself singing out with gusto, by myself, as I failed to realize that they were going to add a few measures of accompaniment to “enrich” our worship time.  I gradually withdrew from participant and became a spectator. 

I am sure that they feel they are leading me toward a more modern worship style.  They would probably tell me that the Holy Spirit leads to new creativity so I need to be open to change.  In reality they are making worship a spectator sport for me.  I love to sing.  I really enjoy congregational singing.  There is something about standing shoulder to shoulder with other believers and raising our voices together.  I can do that with contemporary praise music or a medieval classic that has endured the test of time.  Good music comes in many styles.  What I can’t do is try to guess what the ego of a musician is going to do to what geniuses have accomplished. 

I don’t go to church to listen to a choir or hear specials sung.  I have an I-pod.  I don’t go to admire the skill of someone in the worship team showing how they can sound like Kenny G.  I am not interested in guitar riffs to show how many styles the axe-man has mastered.  I am not impressed by the box they build around the drummer.  In fact, I don’t even go to hear the sermon.  Again I have the I-pod.  I have daily access to Alistair Begg, among others.  I go to worship with God’s people.  To do that we need to be able to know what we are doing so that we can raise our voices in agreement, not in chaos.

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Comments are welcome. Feel free to agree or disagree but keep it clean, courteous and short. I heard some shorthand on a podcast: TLDR, Too long, didn't read.